Five Great UCR Moments in Pop Culture

Welcome to Inside UCR’s newest feature, The Top!

Each issue, we’re presenting a list of UCR staff and faculty favorites — from restaurants to Zen gardens to events. This week, we’re featuring UCR’s contributions to the great abyss that we know as pop culture. In subsequent Inside UCR issues, we’re featuring “How You Know You’re a UCR Grad of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s” — if you want to contribute, email lille.bose@ucr.edu.

1. The Barn Was One of the Gateways to Coachella

One of the oldest buildings on campus, the Barn was built in 1917. From the 1960s to the 1980s, it became a musical landmark at UCR as a venue for up-and-coming folk and pop acts. In the 1990s, Bill Fold, a Riverside native, promoted punk and rock shows at the Barn with his company, 98 Posse. Bands such as No Doubt, the Aquabats, Dance Hall Crashers and Blink 182 all performed at UCR, and Fold eventually went on to work with Goldenvoice as director/producer for the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals.

2. Former UCR Chancellor Tim White Was on a Primetime Reality Show

man standing in front of pennant

UCR Chancellor Timothy White dressed as Pete Weston.

On May 1, 2011, the Season 2 finale of the CBS reality television show “Undercover Boss” aired an episode featuring former UCR Chancellor Timothy White. White spent a week undercover as Pete Weston, doing a variety of jobs across across the campus. He was a track coach, a chemistry professor, a campus tour guide and a staff member in the science library. This episode marks the only time a university campus has been featured on the Emmy-nominated show.

3. Our Scientific Research Inspires Comics That Are Big on the Internet

Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal was inspired by UCR research to create his viral comic on the mantis shrimp.

Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal was inspired by UCR research to create his viral comic on the mantis shrimp.

Matthew Inman, author of The Oatmeal Web comics (which gets 5 million views a month), recently declared his love for the mantis shrimp on his site, in detailed, illustrated glory. It was a comic partly inspired by the research of David Kisailus, assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering. Kisailus is conducting research on the unique, fist-like club of the mantis shrimp and how it could be used to create military body armor and vehicle and aircraft frames.  After the comic was published, Kisailus invited Inman to come to UCR and meet a real mantis shrimp. 

4. … And Can Also Be Used as the Basis for Movie Settings

Jodie Holt, professor of plant physiology, was consulted on plant life and the approaches a botanist might take in the off-world setting for the movie "Avatar."

Jodie Holt, professor of plant physiology, was consulted on plant life and the approaches a botanist might take in the off-world setting for the movie “Avatar.”

James Cameron’s “Avatar” is set in 2154 on the lush moon Pandora, whose atmosphere — though toxic to humans — supports vegetation. To make its alien jungles believable, the filmmakers consulted Jodie Holt, professor of plant physiology, on plant life and the approaches a botanist might take in the off-world setting. For two years, Holt provided textual details for the film. She also gave actor Sigourney Weaver, who plays a botanist in the film, some pointers.

5. Of Course, We Perpetuate Pop Culture, Too

The Harlem Shake craze, an Internet meme that popped up on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter in the thousands since the first video went viral in early February, left its mark on UCR as well. Several versions of the Harlem Shake meme were created on campus. The biggest was a gathering of more than 300 students at the bell tower. Other videos include a performance by the UCR track and field team, a group of students dancing at the Orbach Science Library, and by the residents of the F1 hall of East Lothian.

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